As with any area of the law, it is important to carefully select an attorney who will respond to your situation. The attorney should not be too busy to meet you individually and to answer questions as necessary. The best way to find a trustworthy bankruptcy attorney is to seek recommendations from family, friends or other members of the community, especially any attorney you know and respect. You should carefully read retainers and other documents the attorney asks you to sign. You should not hire an attorney unless he or she agrees to represent you throughout the case. Remember when you meet with an attorney you are hiring someone to work for you. Ask them questions just like you were conducting a job interview, consider asking:
• Where they went to school?
• How long they have been an attorney?
• How long they have practiced in the field of bankruptcy?
• How many bankruptcy cases do they file a year?
• Ask if you have a problem, can you call them directly to discuss the problem?
In bankruptcy, as in all areas of life, remember that the person advertising the cheapest rate is not necessarily the best. Document preparation services a/k/a ‘‘typing services’’ or ‘‘paralegal services’’ involve non-lawyers who offer to prepare bankruptcy forms for a fee. Problems with these services often arise because non-lawyers cannot offer advice on difficult bankruptcy cases and they offer no services once a bankruptcy case has begun. There are also many shady operators in this field, who give bad advice and defraud consumers.
When first meeting a bankruptcy attorney, you should be prepared to answer the following questions:
• What types of debt are causing you the most trouble?
• What are your significant assets?
• How did your debts arise and are they secured?
• Is any action about to occur to foreclose or repossess property or to shut off utility service?
• What are your goals in filing the case?
To schedule an appointment with a experienced Utah attorney for a free consumer bankruptcy consultation visit my website www.bankruptcyguy.com
In recent years the United States has seen the basic expenses of living – gas, food, medical care – skyrocket. Combine that with an unprecedented increase in foreclosures – up 48% from May 2007 to May 2008 – and millions of people are struggling to make ends meet. Some of the hardest hit during the economic downturns are those in their retirement years.
The American Bar Association conducted a survey citing nearly half of those surveyed are worried about making mortgage payments, and 16% have even higher credit and balances than before. And of those surveyed, 39% of those with financial concerns for the future have taken no action.
How does this affect older Americans? Many find themselves in positions they never planned for. 12% more adults over the age of 55 are filing bankruptcy than 13 years ago, and account for nearly 25% of all bankruptcies currently filed.
Retirement aged Americans are not only trying to keep up with their own ever-increasing expenses – such as medical care – they’re also assisting their adult children who are also in financial difficulty. Many find their grown children and grandchildren moving back into their homes, creating a further drain on limited resources.
Compound this with an endless flood of credit card offers. Many retired Americans take on more credit card debt rather than asking for help. Now they’re maxed out with rising interest rates and have no way to pay the balances. Or, they’re taking mortgages or lines of credit out on their homes to pay their bills. In either case, many have fallen for the predatory lending practices.
Now, those who should be enjoying retirement are facing foreclosure and bankruptcy. Born in a generation which believed it was shameful to be unable to pay their bills or file bankruptcy now find themselves rethinking their options. They’ve discovered bankruptcy isn’t a reflection of their character. It’s an economic, legal option for getting out from under a heavy financial burden.
Many retirees find they qualify for Chapter 7 discharge when they finally speak with a local bankruptcy attorney. Social Security benefits are exempt from income restrictions under Chapter 7. Most debt accumulated by senior Americans was accumulated before retirement, or is unsecured debt like credit cards and medical bills. If this is the case, most of the debt can be discharged and change the financial status of the retired person. Not all debt is dischargeable under Chapter 7; a bankruptcy attorney can evaluate your situation and advise you.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is still an option for those who don’t qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. With Chapter 13 bankruptcy a plan is drawn up to repay any outstanding debt. The plan runs for a minimum of 3 years to a maximum of 5 years, but it allows for the person filing bankruptcy to keep more property. Assets are not sold under Chapter 13; payments are made out of income. This may be a more likely option for senior Americans who may still be working or own their own business.
People of retirement age have worked hard to make a home for themselves and their families. They should be enjoying it. Foreclosure doesn’t have to happen. Bankruptcy can be the way out. Discuss your options with a qualified bankruptcy attorney today. A home is too valuable to lose.